IVCA Feature: Former IVCA Scholar Ricardo Iriarte and Sponsor Frontenac on the Success of the Scholar Program

February 14, 2024

One of the finest commitments to creating a space for diversity in the Venture Capital and Private Equity industries is the IVCA Scholar Program. The IVCA Scholarship provides undergraduate students a very rare opportunity to be placed with a Venture Capital or Private Equity firm for 10 weeks.

In addition, Scholars participate in informational and training sessions at a variety of investment firms and at professional service providers that partner with Venture Capital and Private Equity investors including accounting, investment banking, valuation, legal, consulting and more. The goal of this valued IVCA program is to create inclusive industries with more gender, racial and ethnic diversity.

To kick off this 2024 series of articles regarding the program is former IVCA Scholar Ricardo Iriarte, who now works for Adams Street Partners as an Analyst in Co-Investments. His IVCA Scholar sponsor film was Frontenac Private Equity firm, who is represented in this article by Director of Development Gabe Becerra.

Both individuals provided perspective on this vital IVCA Scholarship Program …

IVCA: Ricardo, what was your undergrad background, and how did you get the opportunity to become an IVCA Scholar?

Ricardo Iriarte: I studied Finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and first learned about the IVCA Scholar Program during my junior year, thanks to a recommendation from a former scholar. Impressed by her experiences in the program, I decided to apply, eager to explore the opportunities it offered.

IVCA: How did your sponsor firm Frontenac set up the training situation for you, and what aspects of those training sessions were most beneficial for you in your interest in the industry?

Iriarte: The team at Frontenac was incredible and provided invaluable guidance during my introduction to the Private Equity markets. I found the highly autonomous tasks to be particularly beneficial, as they allowed me to take on early responsibility for my work product.

IVCA: Gabe, why was it important to Frontenac to participate in the IVCA Scholars program?

FRONTENAC: Frontenac recognizes the significance of nurturing the next generation of talent in the Venture Capital and Private Equity industry. By participating in the IVCA Scholars program, Frontenac aims to not only give back to the community but also to invest in the future leaders of the industry.

The program provides an opportunity to engage with bright and ambitious students, offering them exposure to real-world experiences and mentorship within our firm. Additionally, by fostering diversity and inclusion through programs like IVCA Scholars, Frontenac seeks to enrich the industry with a variety of perspectives and backgrounds.

IVCA: Ricardo, beyond training in numbers and procedures, what did you learn about the day-to-day decision making in the industry you were working with that has proved valuable as your career has moved on?

Iriarte: I’ve found that the capacity to understand, manage, and prioritize multiple workflows is a skill of immense value, one that I began honing during my internship at Frontenac. Transitioning to my full-time role at Adams Street, I’ve encountered a significant increase in responsibilities and learning opportunities. Having had early exposure to such decision-making processes has proven to be invaluable.

IVCA: Gabe, In accordance with the firm’s organizational philosophy, what was important about how training points were set up for the IVCA Scholar program?

FRONTENAC: We believe in a hands-on, experiential approach. Therefore, when setting up training points for the IVCA Scholar program, it was essential to align with our philosophy of practical skill development. Rather than solely focusing on theoretical concepts, we emphasized real-time applications and exposure to various aspects of investing process.

We structured the training points to provide scholars with opportunities to engage in live deals, conduct market research, and collaborate with senior members of the team. By immersing scholars in meaningful experiences, we aim to cultivate their abilities to thrive in the dynamic and fast-paced PE environment.

IVCA: Ricardo, in the journey of your career, how important was the IVCA Scholar program in both introducing you to what you were going pursue and getting into the nuts and bolts of the industry?

Iriarte: The IVCA Scholar program played a pivotal role in my life, introducing me to both the strategies and people that have profoundly influenced my early professional journey. Beyond directly impacting my initial career move after undergrad, the IVCA Scholar program also provided me with an early glimpse into how different aspects of the industry operated and helped refine my interests within the field.

IVCA: Gabe, how does the firm think that the IVCA Scholar program contributes to the future of the industry, one career launch at a time?

FRONTENAC: The IVCA Scholar program serves as an important program for harvesting young, underserved students that wish to pursue careers in the PE/VC industry. By nurturing emerging talent and providing them with the necessary outlets, the program paves the way for the next generation of industry leaders. Frontenac believes that investing in young professionals through initiatives like IVCA Scholars not only benefits individual careers but also elevates the industry.

As scholars embark on their career journeys equipped with practical experience, mentorship, and a strong foundation of knowledge, they bring fresh perspectives and insights to drive growth and success in the evolving landscape of PE/VC. Thus, the IVCA Scholar program represents a strategic investment in shaping the future of our industry, one talented individual at a time.

IVCA: Finally Ricardo, how would you recommend to other undergrads the value of the Scholars program if they have an interest in the Venture Capital or Private Equity industry?

Iriarte: The IVCA Scholar program provides students with an invaluable opportunity to immerse themselves in the dynamic environment of the Chicagoland Venture Capital and Private Equity industry, surrounded by some of its finest professionals. I highly recommend the program to anyone interested in gaining deeper insights into the intricacies of these fields and exploring their potential career paths. It’s an ideal platform for those seeking a head start in their career journey within the realm of finance and investments. For more information about the IVCA Scholar program, click https://illinoisvc.org/initiatives/#ivca-scholar-program. For Frontenac Private Equity film, click https://frontenac.com/.

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